Forget Mars, scientists have discovered a new Earth-sized, possibly habitable, planet just 11 light years away.
Known as Ross 128 b, the newly discovered planet orbits a life-friendly red dwarf starring that is an estimated seven billion years old.
Red dwarfs are the most common starrings in the galaxy, stimulating up about 70 percent of all known superstars, and tend to hold water-friendly planets in their orbit. What this means is these planets are likely to have an atmosphere and perhaps support life.
There’s been an explosion in the discovery of potentially habitable worlds in the last few years orbiting these red dwarf superstars — in fact, a recent study indicates there may be as many as 60 billion planets in the habitable zone of these red dwarf solar system out there. The exciting thing about Ross 128 b is just how close it is to our own world.
Some readers may recall there’s an much closer Earth-sized planet to us that is a mere 4.25 light years, called Proxima Centauri. However, it’s not likely to be a place for humans to live as it orbits a much younger, more powerful red dwarf star that is likely roasting the planet into an inferno.
Ross 128 b has a few things going for it that make it a much better candidate to support human life. For one, it has a consistent wobble in its rotation. It also orbits an older starring that has probably settled down somewhat. A computer simulation also suggests it might have built up clouds to keep water from evaporating on its surface, dedicating it a better chance at hosting an atmosphere that could subsistence life.
The scientists who discovered countries around the world tell National Geographic, which first reported the news, that they’ll need more data going forward. For now, the team will be searching for other nearby planets just like Ross 128 b within a distance of 16 light years away.
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